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NY Jets could grant an Aaron Rodgers request that Packers did not

Aaron Rodgers, NY Jets, QB, Scheme
Aaron Rodgers, New York Jets, Getty Images

In one offensive area, Aaron Rodgers may finally get what he wants with the New York Jets

According to the “wish list” narrative, Aaron Rodgers has the New York Jets wrapped around his pinky. If that’s true, maybe he’ll finally get his way in a particular facet of the offensive scheme.

In interviews, Rodgers has long expressed his preference for less pre-snap motion. Unlike Tom Brady, Patrick Mahomes, and other elite quarterbacks, Rodgers prefers to have the play all in front of him without distractions. However, Matt LaFleur did not agree.

In fact, following the Jets’ 27-10 victory over the Packers in 2022, Rodgers said that the team needed to simplify their offense. He clarified that plays without motion worked better for the team. LaFleur brushed that aside.

Indeed, the Packers have been one of the heaviest motion-utilizing teams in the NFL over LaFleur’s tenure with the team. Since 2019, Green Bay has the sixth-highest rate of motion at 57.1% of their offensive plays, per NFL Next Gen Stats. However, they’ve actually had a higher yards-per-play average without motion, at 5.77 with motion compared to 6.09 without. This is likely due to the fact that they ranked 11th in run rate with motion (47.2%) compared to 24th without motion (33.4%).

Now, Nathaniel Hackett will actually be calling all the plays for Rodgers. Will the veteran quarterback get his way with his buddy in charge?

Hackett 2022 vs. Jets 2022

Hackett called the offensive plays for the Broncos until around the Week 11 mark when he turned the duties over to quarterbacks coach Klint Kubiak. However, considering that Hackett selected Kubiak to call the plays, the philosophy was likely at least somewhat similar.

In 2022, the Broncos ranked 29th in motion rate at just 39.5%. They also ranked 27th in motion success rate at 39.6%. Their yards per play totals were very similar with and without motion: 5.17 with it, 5.19 without it. They ran 48.1% of the time on motion plays (14th-most) and 39.5% of the time with no motion (18th-most). It does seem that Hackett prefers less motion, which would bode well for Rodgers.

Meanwhile, the 2022 Jets under Mike LaFleur utilized motion at the sixth-highest rate in the league at 64.1%. However, they were dead-last in the league in motion success rate at 36.2% and 25th with 5.05 yards per motion play. It’s not as if they were any better without motion, though; they ranked 27th with 5.17 yards per play when there was no motion.

It seems that both the Jets and Rodgers might be ready to get away from the LaFleur influence. That could be a significant shift under Hackett despite the perception that the Jets’ scheme won’t change all that much.

Why keep motion?

One of the reasons to play with motion is the presence of Mecole Hardman on the team. Hardman’s 4.33 speed is a threat that opponents need to constantly worry about. Unlike running Elijah Moore on useless orbit motions, as LaFleur did last season, running Hardman on motions to utilize jet sweeps, fakes, bubble screens, and misdirection handoffs can add an element of surprise to the Jets’ offense.

As far as diagnosing the defense, if Rodgers doesn’t prefer it, then he clearly doesn’t feel the need to use motion to identify the coverage. Brady liked to use motion for that reason, but Rodgers is more old-school in that way. Another reason he likes less motion is to be able to mess with the defense via his cadence or quick snaps to catch the defense offsides or off guard.

What will happen

My guess is that Rodgers gets his way. Hackett showed less of a tendency for motion and Rodgers prefers simple. He brought over Allen Lazard and Randall Cobb, who know his preferences.

The main disadvantage to using less motion is the inability to dictate matchups as much. Many teams motion players to force defensive mismatches. Although teams like the Bengals and Eagles used some of the least motion in the league, their offenses were able to create mismatches simply with strength against strength. The Jets likely don’t have that same luxury.

I’m going to guess that the Jets will utilize motion on around 40% of their offensive plays, about as much as Hackett did with Denver. When those plays happen would be interesting to chart. As far as effectiveness, all three offenses discussed—the Broncos, Jets, and Packers—struggled in 2022, so there’s no way to predict which type of play will be more successful.

It’s definitely interesting that Rodgers prefers less motion. That might actually make it easier for Jets receivers to learn the offensive scheme. In this case, it is likely best for the team to cater to its quarterback’s wishes, notwithstanding the jeering media.

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Jim G
1 year ago

I think you’re right. The best coaching is when coaching to people’s strengths. Aaron Rodgers knows his strengths, it is best to let him play that way.

Look at the best coaches: Belichick, Reid & Siriani (I might add Tomlin). They all believe in coaching to their players strengths. How many of Belichick’s or Reid’s players went on to have better careers after the players left the Belichick or Reid teams. A short list indeed.